A Story of A Dad #RealStrength

I say all the time that I am one of the luckiest girls in the world. Not only do I have the best Dad any girl could ever hope for, but I have been blessed to be surrounded by amazing men who have shown me and my girls what the #RealStrength of a man truly is. From my late grandfathers to my uncles to my Dad to the partners I have chosen, the men in my life have always showed true strength with their kindness, integrity, and in some instances – patience! Even though Father’s Day is over, celebrating the men in our lives should never end.

dads real strength

I introduce Mike to everyone as my “better half” – because he truly is. Mike amazes me daily. As the only man in the house besides the cat, he stands a full foot taller than any of us girls with big, broad shoulders. He does all of the “heavy lifting” around here – whether it is bringing in the 25 bags of groceries (all in one trip, of course) moving the furniture so we can clean under it, or just opening the pickle jar. But his physical strength isn’t all that he has going for him. The strength he shows by loving my girls as his own makes me fall in love with him over and over again.

mike

When Mike and I met I was a single mom living in a tiny little condo – literally stealing internet from the neighbors wifi because I did not have enough money for it myself. I was living on pennies, barely getting by, trying to rebuild my business after a nasty divorce. We only saw each other on the days that the girls were with their Dad so sometimes that meant a few days together… followed by more days apart. We would spend hours on the phone after the girls went to bed, just talking and laughing. The song “Kiss Me Through The Phone” was on the radio, and we laughed that it was just for us.

One evening he was headed to a tournament downtown and asked if he could come by for just a minute – I could sneak out to see him. It had been nearly a week since we had seen each other, which at the time felt like an eternity.  I set the girls up with a movie and told them I was going outside to make a phone call. I snuck out to say hello as he pulled up, and a few minutes later I saw Midge coming out of the back door to find me. I scooped her up and she said “who’s that?” And I said “This is my friend Mike, can you say hello?” She leaned over to shake his hand and said “Will you be my friend too?” At that moment I think Mike fell in love, and the two of them have been practically inseparable ever since.

mike and midge

Sami was a little tougher sell – after all she was older and still mad that her dad and I had split. Mike was amazing with her – he talked to her, he let her be mad, he always treated her like a “grown up” while I now see I was treating her like a baby. He became her confidant and even now there are times where he comes and tells me about conversations they have had – things she went to him to talk about instead of coming to me. Sometimes I feel a twinge of jealousy, but then I just realize how fortunate I am that they are so close.

mike and sam

A little over a year in to our relationship I found out I needed a hysterectomy. Mike and I had never talked about having children of our own – we had not even discussed marriage or a future or any of that. But this surgery meant Mike would never have any biological children of his own if he chose to stay with me. It was very hard, and we both cried many many tears. I was sure he would leave – after all having children was always a dream of his. But he stayed. And every day he has treated the girls as if they were his own.

If Mike needed to move a mountain for these girls, I am certain that he could. But the strength I most admire is a man who steps in to the role of Dad when he doesn’t have to and commits to it for the rest of his life.

mike and the girls

Dove has partnered with Walmart to help celebrate the #RealStrength of Dads like Mike all over the world. The Dove+ Mens Care line are all of the products Dad needs to stay strong (and smelling great!) You can show Dad how much you care by creating a personalized slideshow just for Dad and share it using the hashtag #RealStrength.

dove mens care

And next time you shop your local Walmart, pick up some of these great products to show Dad you love him – every day.

Hydrate Face Wash
Dove Men+Care Hydrate + Face Wash features a mild formula that cleanses thoroughly and rinses easily while effectively fighting dry skin. Its lather activates on skin leaving your face moisturized.

Hydrate Face Lotion
Dove Men+Care Hydrate + Face Lotion contains an advanced formula designed for men’s skin to lock in moisture without feeling greasy. Protect your face from sun damage with broad spectrum SPF 15 and helps to keep your skin looking healthy.

Clean Comfort Antiperspirant
The first antiperspirant/deodorant from Dove specifically designed to give men protection—without compromise. Its unique formula combines one of the most effective ingredients for 48-hour protection against odor and wetness with non-irritant 1/4 moisturizer technology.

Clean Comfort Body Wash
Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Body and Face Wash with MICROMOISTURE technology is clinically proven to fight skin dryness better than regular men’s body wash. This ultra-light formula rinses off easily for a refreshing clean and total skin comfort.

Anti Dandruff Fortifying Shampoo
Dove Men+Care Anti Dandruff Fortifying Shampoo helps eliminate flakes. Developed with Pyrithione Zinc and infused with caffeine to strengthen hair and improve scalp health.

How do you celebrate the #RealStrength of Dad every day?

*Sponsored post by Lunchbox, all opinions are 100% my own.

Guilt Free Snacking With GoMacro MacroBars

Since I began my fitness journey about a year and a half ago, I have become super conscious about exactly what foods I fuel my body with. After completing a round of whole30 I learned exactly what my body does like… and what it does not. It was interesting to me to learn how foods that I thought were the best ever, I actually had major sensitivities too. I am now the girl who asks too many questions in restaurants and reads every label in the store. When I was given the opportunity to test out the new GoMacro MacroBars, I immediately researched the ingredients… and was pleasantly surprised.

gomacro

Available in 11 incredible flavors, GoMacro Bars are guaranteed to satisfy your hunger and deliver plenty of clean-burning natural energy. All MacroBars are USDA organic, non-GMO project verified, kosher, gluten free and vegan certified. GoMacro is a family owned company with a focus on helping people live a natural, whole-food based lifestyle. All of their foods are tasty and healthy – the perfect combination.

gomacro cashew butter bar

I have only just begun tasting all eleven flavors, but my favorite so far is the cashew butter. It has just the right amount of crunch and is bursting with flavor. The girls gobbled down the Cherries + Berries flavor while Mike liked to keep it simple with Peanut butter. I am excited to try the rest as soon as this round of whole30 is over.

gomacro macrobars

Check out GoMacro.com to see all flavors available, and be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get news of their new Thrive collection coming soon! GoMacro Thrive Bars contain ingredients that have been selected to target specific systems in the body – neurological, digestive and cardiovascular. At only 180 calories, each GoMacro Thrive bar contains 3g of fiber and 4g of protein.

gomacro macro bars asst

Ready to try GoMacro? Use the promo code BLOGGER for 40% off your first order! Happy Snacking!

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DIY Bedside Plush Holder Inspired by Inside Out

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InsideOutEmotions #CollectiveBias

When I chose to have my girls seven years apart, it was purely for selfish reasons. I knew that I could not handle juggling two little ones at one time. I have all the respect in the world for moms who have their children close in age – I did not have enough faith in myself to do that. People asked me all the time “Aren’t you worried they won’t be close because of their age difference?” Nope… these two have been the best of friends since day one, and while they may get in to their little spats from time to time, within minutes they are piled up giggling together again. best friends

This weekend we went and saw the new Inside Out Movie for our family date night. The movie is super cute, but really showed how emotions can change with age. It spawned a conversation about how even though my girls are the best of friends, they see and feel things vastly different because of the seven year gap. We even got as far as talking about the little spats that they get in to, and how sometimes it has to do with the emotions of a situation being different. The Teen is obviously more mature and has a wider range of emotions, while Midge is still figuring things out. Then we talked about how sometimes it’s hard to explain to someone what’s “wrong” because you can be wrapped up in so many emotions at once, you can’t put it in to words, so you may be acting one way, but actually feeling another way. “It’s like we need flash cards or something,” The Teen said with a laugh.

It made me think of the new Inside Out Plushes that are on sale now at your local Walmart. They are the perfect visual “flash card” to help the girls understand how each other is FEELING – even though they may be ACTING a different way. The Teen pointed out that sometimes when she is feeling sad, it makes her really angry – so she can come off as being grouchy, when really all she wants – and needs – is a hug. With her “flash card” idea in mind we went straight out and purchased all five Inside Out Plushes – Anger, Joy, Disgust, Sadness, and Fear. We found the display right on an end cap in the toys section. In fact there were all kinds of cool Inside Out toys there. I think Midge played the Musical Bing Bong a dozen times.

inside out plushes at walmart

Then I needed to make a Bedside Plush Holder that the girls could hang right on their bed, so when a spat comes up they can easily grab one of the plushes to show how they are feeling. I didn’t want these guys to just get tossed on the bed with every other stuffed animal. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune or have something so complex that I would get frustrated and quit. I decided to use an oversized bath towel as my base, and includes colored washcloths to match the emotions colors to decorate. You can literally pick up everything you need for this entire craft from your local Walmart.

plush holder

The first thing we did was cut the circles out of the colored washcloths. In the Inside Out Movie, memories are kept in what looks like “bubbles” so I thought the little bubbles of color would be a perfect way to decorate the Inside Out Plush Holder. I used one of my canning lids to draw out the circles and then cut them out using nice sharp scissors.

inside out bubbles

Next we folded up one section of the towel to make the pocket. I folded it about 12 inches up and hand sewed the side tightly. Now, you are probably thinking this would be much easier with a sewing machine… and it would have been. Except that I was only a stitch or two in before the conversation about emotions started up all over again. I realized I was glad for the time that it took to sit there and hand sew while talking to the girls about how we feel, and things that are going on in their lives. It was absolutely joyful.

plush holder craft

Next we began putting on the circles – or Memory Bubbles as the girls called them. I managed to table my OCD and let Midge not only do most of the sewing, but I let her place the circles as well. We did a starburst like stitch – criss-crossing in the middle but keeping close to the outside so the fabric wouldn’t roll up.

midge

sewing

The Teen helped me by threading the needles…  swear those things have gotten tinier… it couldn’t possibly be that my eyesight is dwindling… right?

teen

Once she was satisfied with how the bubbles turned out, I stitched up the other side tightly, and then put a single tight line of stitching up the very center to make sure they stayed upright. The key to doing this with a towel we discovered is a nice tight stitching – especially at the top corners!

bedside plush holder

To hang the Beside Plush Holder you simply slide the long part of the towel under the mattress that you want it to hang from. Since the girls have bunk beds we decided to hang it from the top bunk so they can both easily reach. Make sure you spread the towel back and out as far as you can – that will help the holder hang upright when the weight of the plushes is added to it.

inside out

We had an absolute blast putting together this craft and just spending time together doing something fun. And I think we all got a better understanding of how we feel about certain things, and talked about how it was ok to feel when you feel – and to talk about it and not keep it bottled up inside. I think the most important thing though was when The Teen said “You know the movie made me realize things just aren’t so black and white – there is so much more going on.” Then Midge chimed in with “and sometimes something can be happy for you, but makes someone else sad. You have to be careful not to hurt their feelings.” We all just looked at each other and let that kind hang in the air for a minute and smiled. It was perfect.

craft day

How have you helped to explain emotions as your children have gotten older?

 

Workout In Style with RBX Active

I have a confession… I am one of those girls who likes to look good while working out. Now, I do not spend a half an hour doing my hair or put on a full face of makeup – although eyeliner and mascara are a must – but I still care very much what I look like. Whether I am at the gym, on the way to teach a POUNDFit class, OR any of the activities surrounding those things – like grabbing a quick bite to eat after a workout or running errands on the way to the gym – what I look like matters. So when I was offered a chance to check out RBX Active Digital Camo Leggings, I jumped at the chance.

RBX Active

RBX Active debuted on the activewear scene just three years ago and has grown steadily because of its superior quality, up to the minute styling and accessible pricing. The company features the ultimate in fashion-active apparel and fitness accessories at price points that are realistic for today’s active consumer. Their slogan – LIVE LIFE ACTIVE effectively describes the spirit of the brand.

I received the military grey print and actually squealed when I pulled them out of the bag. They almost perfectly matched my RipStix!!! The fabric was super soft and stretchy – but unlike some other more expensive workout pants I owned, even when they stretched, the print didn’t get all faded out and distorted.

RBX Active Digital Camo Leggings

The Digital Camo Legging is available in four fabulous patterns and sizes range S-M-L-XL fitting 4/6, 6/8. 8/10, 12-14 respectively. RBX is one of the few active wear companies that have a full line of products in XL sizes! The fabric “wicks” which means it pulls any moisture (sweat!!) away from your skin to keep you feeling dry – which is super important when doing cardio for long periods of time. They have a 21 1/2 inch inseam making them the perfect capri length and are machine washable and fade resistant so they will keep looking fabulous wash after wash.

leggings

I absolutely love these leggings and will be ordering all three other colors! I love how comfortable these are, and I get compliments every time I wear them – whether I am at the store or at the gym. If you are looking for some super cute workout clothes at a reasonable price, be sure to check out RBX Active. And between now and July 31st 2015 you can use the promo code Active25 for a 25% savings off your entire order! You also get free shipping on all orders over $50!  Happy Shopping!!

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What Is Your Beauty Story?

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mamalo

“A happy heart is what makes a girl pretty.”

That was what my grandmother told me. It was one of her little nuggets of wisdom that I remember to this day. MamaLo was big on making sure you “kept your heart happy” and in line with God. When you were sad or upset about something, she would tell you to “be still” and let your heart be filled with happiness. She was the first one to tell me that “happy girls are pretty girls” and sadly passed away long before that became a catch phrase. In fact I remember being little and asking her about her crows feet and wrinkles while she smoothed on her nightly moisturizer, and she told me they were laugh lines from a life lived happily.

mamalo and daddyt

Growing up, being “pretty” was never very high on my priority list, but I tried to remember MamaLo’s words to always be happy. I grew up on Pensacola Beach where the standard attire was a ponytail, bathing suit, and layer of beach sand. My days were spent either in school or in the Gulf of Mexico – face down with a snorkel trying to find sea critters and sea shells. My “beauty regimen” was simply to moisturize my sometimes overly sun-kissed skin, just like I saw MamaLo do every night before bed. When I hit high school I saw lot of the other girls wearing gorgeously applied makeup with flawless hair… and while I did try to make myself up sometimes… it still just wasn’t very high on my priority list. What was high on my list was making lifelong memories with the best of friends – many of whom I am still friends with to this day.

be happy

Now as a mom of two daughters, I understand even more what MamaLo meant about happiness being beautiful, and I try to pass that along to my girls. In today’s world where there is SO much pressure to look a certain way and be a certain way, I try to remember to tell my girls to just focus on always being happy and stay connected with your heart. Dove has recently teamed up with Sam’s Club to talk about women’s Beauty Story, and how women in our lives have shaped our story to be what it is today. It immediately made me think of and miss MamaLo and her laughter which I can still hear in my mind to this day. Visit Dove Beauty Story at Sam’s Club and watch how four generations of women have used Dove to shape their family’s #BeautyStory and then share yours!

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*Sponsored post by Lunchbox, all opinions are 100% my own.